The Cougars were in their third year in Division I and still ineligible to win the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament. But at 24-3 they were in play for a long-shot at-large bid to the tournament.
Then it came: The Cougars made their first NCAA Tournament, a No. 12 seed matched against No. 5 Wake Forest.
“We started jumping around and chest-bumping,” Narion Busby said in 2014. “We were running down the street yelling and screaming. People must have thought we were crazy.”
It’s judged the greatest sports moment in school history because it was a turning point.
From 1993-98, the Cougars — who joined the CAA in 2013 — won 74 of 80 TAAC games and did not lose in the conference tournament. Head coach John Kresse won three coach of the year awards and coached four players of the year.
Busby, the school’s fifth all-time leading scorer in Division I, led the Cougars that season with 16.6 points per game. He also was named first-team All-TAAC.
The team included Thaddeus Delaney, who earned the nickname “Shaq of the TAAC” for his dominating conference play from 1993-97. He still ranks as the school’s second all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Division I, and led the Cougars to a No. 7 national ranking in his junior season.
As a freshman, though, Delaney and the Cougars saw their dream season end against another prominent freshman.
Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan, future Olympic and NBA champion, led the Demon Deacons to a 68-58 victory in the NCAA Tournament’s first round on March 17, 1994. Busby was the Cougars’ player of the game with 21 points, four assists and no turnovers.
Duncan led Wake Forest to the Sweet 16 in 1995 and Elite Eight in 1996. The Cougars, meanwhile, made four NCAA Tournament and two NIT appearances in six seasons, which had an impact beyond the basketball court.
“The burst of success,” The Post and Courier columnist Gene Sapakoff wrote in 2014, “led to an increase in applications and a jump in the school’s academic profile.”
“I don’t look at it as changing the program,” Busby said. “I just look at it as we just wanted to win. Yes, we wanted to make an impact, but we didn’t realize we were going to go to the NCAA Tournament in our third season playing Division I.”
Above: College of Charleston coach John Kreese congratulates Wake Forest freshman Tim Duncan after Wake Forest beat the Cougars 68-58 in the NCAA Tournament on March 17, 1994 in Lexington, Ky. Duncan finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Campbell
• Tuesday: Central Arkansas and Central Florida
• Wednesday: Central Michigan and College of Charleston
• Thursday: Charleston Southern and Charlotte
• Friday: Chattanooga and Chicago State